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D60’s Risley International and Heroes Academy fail to make the grade in state standards

Posted at 1:57 PM, Nov 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 12:27:02-05

PUEBLO – District 60 announced today the state will issue an order for the district to contact an external management organization to take over Risley International Academy of Innovation and Heroes Academy as both schools have failed to meet standards for improvement and performance.

According to the district, 19 schools are on performance level, meeting the state’s highest ranking, based on data from 2018. That’s an improvement from 2017 when only 12 were considered on the right path.

Risley and Heroes Academy were on the list last year of schools in need of a turnaround in performance.

RELATED: State Board of Education recommends external management partner to help Heroes Academy, Risley International

In late August, D60 rolled out the first update to their district plan in a decade. The breakdown of the plan for the next 5 years is to focus on: Student Success, Community Engagement, Safe & Positive Culture, Quality Staff and Budget & Sustainable Funding.

“We are pleased that the State Board of Education has approved our request to move forward with an external partner at Risley International and Heroes Academy. We take our responsibility to provide students with better outcomes very seriously. We will fully engage the help of an external management partner in order to ensure the necessary changes occur that will increase the levels of achievement at both Heroes and Risley International,” said Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso in a release.

If you would like to get involved in D60’s efforts, click here to learn more.

The district as a whole is facing increasing financial pressures with the District-wide Master Plan highlighting some $218 million worth of facilities needs that are deemed “mission critical.” These repairs are bad enough that they, “may directly affect a school’s ability to remain open or deliver their educational curriculum.”

The full price tag for the backlog of facility needs surpasses $784 million. So, the report authors also suggest constructing new schools to replace deficient facilities.

The failed Amendment 73 on this year’s ballot was for school funding. It would have changed Gallagher by setting a floor for how low property tax rates can adjust downward. It would have also levied a new tiered income tax on individuals earning more than $150,000 per year.  The estimated $1.6 billion in new revenue for schools would have meant about $26 million a year for D-60. The mill levy override hoped to generate another $6 million a year.

Together, the two tax issues may have put off the district’s pain a little longer, but neither won support at the ballot box. In fact, Pueblo voters rejected Amendment 73 by a roughly 2-to-one margin.

The trend of declining enrollment shows no signs of slowing. The total number of students in D-60 has dropped by more than 8 percent in the past 5 years. It’s projected to fall another 8 percent by the 2024-2025 school year.

A series of town-hall meetings have been scheduled for late November and December to inform parents and the community about the ongoing needs facing the district.

That schedule is as follows:

• November 28 at Centennial High School beginning at 6:00 p.m.
• November 29 at Central High School beginning at 6:00 p.m.
• December 18 at East High School beginning at 6:00 p.m.
• December 19 South High School beginning at 6:00 p.m.

RELATED: Bell and Cannon Game in danger as D60 considers closures